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Makey Makey: Make an Interactive Flower

Updated: Dec 8, 2022

What is a Makey Makey?

Makey Makey is a circuit board that connects to a device via USB. It acts as a second keyboard which you can then connect to anything that conducts electricity to make that the ‘key’. You can then use this to control whatever is on your computer screen! You can also use Scratch to code and control the Makey Makey. Check out the Makey Makey video below to see some examples of how it can be used.


How might we make learning about plants more engaging and entertaining for our users or classmates?

Task: Create an interactive sunflower!

Student Level: Year 5+ Can be adapted to suit Level 2, 3 or 4 of the NZ Curriculum

Beginner Intermediate Advanced

Time and Resources:

  • 2-4 hours

  • 1 Makey Makey kit per sunflower

  • Resources to build sunflower- eg- cardboard, glue, paper, wire etc

  • Copper tape

  • Split pins/paper fasteners

Curriculum links:

This is an integrated unit involving a number of curriculum areas such as science, reading, writing, digital technologies and the arts. The following curriculum achievement objectives are Level 3.

Level 3 Science: Nature of Science: Ask questions, find evidence, explore simple models, and carry out appropriate investigations to develop simple explanations.

Level 3 Science: Living World: Recognise that there are life processes common to all living things and that these occur in different ways.

Computational thinking progress outcome 2: In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users, students give, follow and debug simple algorithms in computerised and non-computerised contexts. They use these algorithms to create simple programs involving outputs and sequencing (putting instructions one after the other) in age-appropriate programming environments.

Designing and developing digital outcomes progress outcome 1: In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users, students participate in teacher-led activities to develop, manipulate, store, retrieve and share digital content in order to meet technological challenges. In doing so, they identify digital devices and their purposes and understand that humans make them. They know how to use some applications, they can identify the inputs and outputs of a system, and they understand that digital devices store content, which can be retrieved later.

Key Competency Links:

Thinking: Planning and design process for the outcome the interactive sunflower, What do they look like? How big? What resources will be needed? What will you do and when?

Using language, text and symbols: Using topic/science specific words, seed, germination, photosynthesis, etc. Digital technologies vocabulary, input, variables, outputs, loops, circuit board, USB, Scratch coding (block coding language), crocodile clip, copper tape,

Managing self: Completing work for the group, finding the right tools for the job.

Relating to others: Working together in the group, thinking carefully about audience.

Participating and contributing: Sharing ideas, completing tasks and working together in the group.

Step by Step Lesson:

  1. After students have been introduced to the task/problem, students will need to plan and construct their flower. This may involve researching the way a flower looks or is structured, collecting materials and getting feedback on their plan.

  2. Identify the key parts of the flower and the information needed to write the speech.

  3. After your sunflower is complete, lay the copper tape from the base of the flower up to the key parts of the flower. Use the split pins at the end of the copper tape as the buttons on the flower. SIDE NOTE: if you have never used copper tape etc before it could be worth having a practice run first!

  4. Write down the ‘speech’ that will be read aloud when each of the parts of the flower buttons are touched.

  5. Use Scratch to record the speech. Find a template on scratch here: Here are the step by step instructions on how to record on Scratch for a Makey Makey project:

  6. Once you have your speech recorded on Scratch, and you have checked it works with your computer keyboard keys you are ready to attach the Makey Makey.

  7. Connect the crocodile clips to the line of copper tape at the bottom of your sunflower. TIP: Check you have the right pins and clips going to the right places on the Makey Makey!

  8. Make sure you have a crocodile clip going to a place where your user will hold or touch the ‘earth’.

  9. Consider- how might you make your sunflower more user-friendy? Does it need instructions on how it works? Signs? It is easy to use without you explaining it to them?

  10. Test, trial, debug and share with others!


How else could you do that?

  • Topic choice: You may like to choose another model instead of a flower that students could build or make- how about a human heart or a scale model of a city?

  • More keys, more buttons: Use more than 6 keys- flip the Makey Makey over and use the letter keys.

  • Visual presentation: Create/code a visual on Scratch to accompany the model.


Tips and Tricks

  • Check that the resources you use to build the sunflower are not conductive- use cardboard, paper etc to build your flower.

  • Students may need to have prior knowledge or research the parts of a flower or the facts they want to explain before beginning the task.

  • Teachers and students may need to discuss potential design features of the model so the Makey Makey is able to be attached, the buttons work, the buttons are able to be connected and so that each button can work independently of each other.

  • Students may like to write instructions on how a user can interact with their sunflower

  • It is recommended that students and teachers have a tinker and introduction to the Makey Makey, how it works as well as using copper tape before this lesson.

  • Embrace the chaos of trial and error. Give students the option to fail fast and solve problems.



More ideas and lessons:

Buy a Makey Makey here:

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